• Expanded pharmacist role could ease some of NHS burden
    (Credit Aston University)

News & Views

Expanded pharmacist role could ease some of NHS burden

Mar 20 2024

Through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Aston University and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) are looking into the feasibility of extending pharmacists’ duties to include more healthcare interventions, such as blood pressure checks and cholesterol screening to help ease the growing burden on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Representing the interests of more than 37,000 members, the PDA is seeking to advocate for pharmacists to deliver more healthcare interventions, alongside their role in seasonal flu and COVID vaccination programmes.

To provide NHS policymakers with robust evidence of the feasibility, acceptability and impacts this would have, the organisation is working with Aston University’s Professor Chris Langley from the School of Pharmacy and Dr Gemma Mansell from the School of Psychology who are carrying out the research and evaluation to produce this evidence.

Together with KTP Associate Dr Jason Tang, the KTP team developed a shortlist of health interventions that pharmacists could deliver to patients who have come for vaccinations. The interventions were trialled at a community pharmacy in Dudley in 2023, then evaluated for their health impact and cost-effectiveness. The interventions may then be adapted based on this evaluation and will be trialled again in 2024 to gain more data. Questionnaires will be used to assess patients’ and pharmacists’ reactions to the changes.

Alison Jones, director of policy, PDA, said: “There are already some moves to enable pharmacists working in the community to deliver more aspects of clinical care. For example, with appropriate training, pharmacists can also take on some aspects of the prescribing of medicines. This project will be an important part of that evolution, supporting individual pharmacists to have more opportunities to practice and so develop more fulfilling careers.”

Professor Langley said: “Since COVID, the way we deliver healthcare has changed. We have a backlog in diagnosing underlying disease and at the same time fewer face-to-face consultations. If we can make use of the time that pharmacists have with patients during their vaccinations to deliver other services, then that could help to ensure patients are diagnosed and can receive treatment much more quickly.”

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